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A Hidden Gem for CAOs and CFOs 💎 Oracle’s Narrative Reporting

Published December 14 2021
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Is it EASY for your team to create, review, and distribute your key reporting products like QBRs, Earnings Releases, MD&A, Budget Briefings, and operating reviews?

Does your team know which pages, graphs, paragraphs, charts, and pictures should be updated and by when?

Are you sending emails & chats back and forth to get these documents to the finish line?

I found a tool that improves day-to-day life better for you & your Finance team – making an old-fashioned process better in 2-3 weeks and at a minimal cost!

Oracle’s Narrative Reporting, part of Oracle’s EPM Cloud subscription, is a stand-alone service to manage the reporting process. Oracle EPM’s Narrative Reporting takes a multi-page report - in Adobe PDF, PowerPoint, Word, PDF, et cetera – and divides it into individual, assignable pieces. Once you decompose a big report into its atomic components, you can load each piece into Oracle’s Narrative Reporting to manage its creation, review, and distribution.

With Oracle’s EPM Narrative Reporting – you can take any document, break it down, add it to the tool, and assign owners & dates.

Your team sees what they need to create and update with associated deadlines and comments.

As a document owner, you can manage the overall process.

When you kick off the creation process, participants receive a notification that a section requires their attention. Then, each person can check out their respective section, make updates in their usual desktop tools – even down to a single word or sentence.   Once they finish their update, they submit their section for review. As the document comes together, you can perform a final review, and publish the completed document.

As your process matures, you can automatically update values & text throughout your document by linking specific words to variables. The system can automatically refresh dates, periods, revenue headlines, etc. For example, you can upload a spreadsheet containing the latest revenue, income, growth rates, and EPS values. You can reference specific cells in your source data to dynamically refresh your broader documents. You will never miss a required update again!

If you have data, tables, and graphs accessible in your Oracle Cloud and on-premises tools – like your ERP, HCM, or Planning tools. Oracle’s Narrative Reporting can “run” a report and embed that information directly within your broader document. But, to be clear, you do not need to do this to take advantage of Narrative Reporting’s report creation process.

How Long Does it Take?

About 2-3 weeks for your typical report!

The tool requires a few hours of training to get the hang of how it works.   Alithya can help with education, training, and execution.

Invest a few weeks – and you get an annuity of a simplified and streamlined process in a tool – improving work-life balance, improving your team’s outputs, and reduce the chance of an embarrassing reporting error!

Show me!

Step 1: Break Your Report into its Pieces

Each element – a chart, graph, table, sentence, word - in your document is called a doclet. Each doclet can be assigned to authors who will be responsible for contributing that component. Doclets can be Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF.

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Figure: A typical report consists of doclets and sections.

Step 2: Define Workflow, Owners, and Due-Dates

After you create your report doclet, you assign responsibility. Define your authors, reviewers, and approvers. When the authoring process starts, your participants receive notifications to begin their portion of the document.

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Figure: Assign authors, approvers, reviewers, and viewers to each doclet.


Step 3: Initiate the Process

Some documents are refreshed weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually! You define the specific completion dates for your report … defining due dates for a first draft, internal review, and final approval.

Blog 4Figure: Narrative Reporting helps structure the tasks to complete your document by your deadlines. Once the dates and owners are configured, you can monitor progress from the Report Center.


In the Report Center, you monitor the overall process, deadlines, and where the document sits within your team:

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Figure: As your report matriculates through its lifecycle, you can monitor the status of the overall deliverable and each doclet.

Step 4: Authoring your Portion of the Document

As each person edits their respective sections, they work from the comfort of their familiar desktop office tools. Users should install Oracle’s Smartview for Microsoft Office Add-In tool on their PCs to facilitate the process. The SmartView tool allows participants to work directly within their native office tools to make updates. Participants check-out their doclet, make edits, check-in their completed portion, and submit their edits to the next level in the review chain.

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Figure: Contributors work directly in Microsoft Office via Oracle’s SmartView Add-In.

Step 5: Publish Your Completed Document

As your document reaches the finish line – the final step is to distribute your document.

There are three distribution scenarios:

  1. Manual – download the completed document in PDF, PowerPoint, or Word – and send or print it.
  2. Email – You can configure the system to distribute the document automatically. Automated distribution saves time for your team, avoids leaving someone off the list, ensures documents are secure, avoids sending a document to an unintended recipient, and allows republishing if necessary.
  3. Self-service – Recipients can download the completed document as they need it – avoiding clogging up email for information that is needed infrequently.

Blog Image 9Figure: Completed reports can be distributed via email notifications.

Quick Time-to-Value and Not Technical!

If you are looking for an easy win to save time, reduce errors, and improve your team’s deliverables, check out Oracle’s Narrative Reporting tool. Our clients often see a 30-40% reduction in the effort it takes to generate, review, and distribute their reporting deliverables.

Configuring a report takes a few weeks.

Again, this is not a technology project, it is a process project: you still use your traditional Microsoft Office tools, but with the benefits of workflow & orchestration – supported by a cloud tool!


David Pabst is a Director at Alithya and an Oracle ACE ♠ who recently wrote the book The Nine Principles of Agile Planning: Create Nimble and Dynamic Forecasting in Your Organization.  Contact us if you're interested in more details about connected planning or how to obtain a copy of the book.

For comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at  Visit our blog regularly for new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.